Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Fencing with the Dragon
As I've mentioned before, Rasty loves to watch MSNBC -- for hours per night -- which means that we get most of our TV news from MSNBC, and I swear, if the pundits at MSNBC stepped in dog-shit, they'd swear Trump put it there. They spend 20 hours out of every 24 denouncing Trump, his cronies, his lawyers, his cronies' lawyers, and everybody remotely connected with him -- and maybe four hours on everything happening in the rest of the world.
So it's not surprising that they spent a good hour denouncing Trump's statement that he was going to back off on sanctions of a Chinese telecom company that had previously been caught trying to spy on the US. Trump claimed he was doing it in order to "create jobs in China", which sounds rather weird, considering his main purpose of creating jobs in the US, and MSNBC practically bristled with theories about what he was really up to. The most popular speculation is that the company was hoping to provide communications for an Indonesian theme-park, which would include hotels built and owned by Trump's company.
Only one speaker, briefly, considered that this might have been an indication of some quiet game between Trump and China. Even that one didn't mention that this deal might have anything to do with North Korea.
Quite separately, the newsies chattered about Kim Young-'Un's latest temper-tantrum, wherein he threatened to cancel the peace-talks with South Korea, and with Trump, about ridding NKorea of nukes, because he suddenly felt offended by the annual US/SKorean military games. MSNBC seems to think that Kim has played Trump somehow, giving NKorea equal standing the US in Asia. Not once in their dithering did they mention the name of China.
Now anyone who's studied recent history should know that NKorea, for the past half-century and more, has not really been an independent country; it's been a front for China. The Kim family throne has been set in the mouth of a dragon, and that dragon could close its jaws any time it wanted. A few years back, when Kim II started playing with nukes and actually managed to set off one, China said nothing in public but obviously considered the reactions of the other countries in Asia, particularly Japan, India and South Korea. A few months after that active nuke-test, Kim II mysteriously died -- of natural causes, everyone insisted -- and Kim Young-'Un hastily gave up his playboy lifestyle and ascended to the throne. His reign so far has been notable for his amazing bragging, his continuing with the nuclear program, and his assassinating of random officials -- as if he were trying to catch and kill off secret agents who might be in a position to take him out.
His reign has also been notable, among those who think to look for subtleties, for its cooling relationship to China. When the Chinese govt. announced to the world that, if Kim threw real missiles at the US or any of its allies, China would stay neutral and not defend North Korea, that was a clear signal. Of course this was paired with a threat to the US as well, should the US hit NKorea first -- which of course the US had no intention of doing.
Meanwhile, the US State Department -- and particularly the Trump administration -- has been quietly and politely dueling with China over matters of trade. Understand that the Chinese government has long been addicted to economic warfare, even when -- as in the build-up to the Opium Wars -- the result is ruinous for China. Over the past few decades the US has built up an alarming debt -- a large part of it with China -- but China has also been having employment problems of its own. This explains its WPA-like building programs, that have put up whole cities out in the boondocks that have no economic reason to exist. China has always had a problem with overpopulation, and all the troubles that brings. One of those problems is famine, and North Korea has never been any help with that. The western nations -- particularly the US, Canada and Australia -- have always been good at producing abundances of food, possibly enough to pay off a multi-trillion-dollar debt. China will, of course, dicker and duel to get the most advantage out of any deal, but it absolutely does need food and jobs for that excess population. The State Dept. is aware of economic warfare and how to play it, and so is Trump.
Point is, China is quite willing to dump NKorea -- and it's megalomaniac leader -- in exchange for advantageous deals with the west, particularly the US. This is why Kim Young-'Un suddenly agreed to stop his nuclear program, end the long-unfinished Korean War, hold negotiations with SKorea for uniting the peninsula and even chat with Trump. The Chinese dragon began closing its mouth that Kim's throne sits in. Just what China threatened Kim with is anyone's guess, but it scared him badly. I suspect that soon enough our spies will report that a lot of people around Kim have been assassinated, as he flailed out trying to catch Chinese agents. Now he's reversed himself on the negotiations, and is insisting that NKorea will never give up its nukes. This is not what China wants to hear. Trump's counter-offer, taking the sanctions off the communications company (with, I think we can be sure, certain guarantees that it can't effectively spy on the US again), is quite enough to make the dragon close its jaws completely.
I predict one of two outcomes; either Kim quietly reverses himself again and lets the negotiations go ahead, complete with the even quieter arrangement that all his nukes and their supplies go to China, or... He suffers from a sudden, fatal aneurysm. Natural causes.
In Asia, at least, nobody gets away with underestimating the dragon.